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Teacher Bios for 2017-2018

Daniel Berry: (Private Lessons and Choir) Daniel is a mixed-media artist and music educator. He has been working professionally as a teacher, singer, organist, and composer since 2011. As a private and group music teacher, Mr. Berry’s goal is to develop excellent musicians that are musically active in their local churches. As an artist, he enjoys exploring the boundaries of artistic mediums, and finding new ways to glorify God.  


MICHAEL DREW:  (Guitar) Michael started taking piano lessons when he turned nine years old.  As any reluctant youth would be so accustomed to do, he didn't take his musical aspirations very seriously-----much to his parents chagrin.  Days after the September 11 attacks, Michael was watching the "Concert for New York" and was so inspired by the gifted musicians that he vowed to learn how to play guitar.  Thus began his dedication to music and Michael's decision to ensure that it would always be a main focus of his life. 

Throughout high school, Michael practiced the guitar for five hours a day,  proving to himself and his parents that even though he did not come from a musical family, nothing was going to stop him from making his dream become a reality.  To hone his skills on a deeper level, Michael studied classical guitar and music theory at Judson University.  This decision proved worthwhile.  Michael realized that teaching others how to play guitar and piano was a great way to earn a living while continuing to play music. 

Michael is a member of one the hottest up and coming Chicago-based alternative rock bands, Adora.  The band has received a host of national press, including mentions in AP magazine, and band highlights on FUSE TV.  Adora has played many of the top Chicago venues, including sold out show at the Metro and House of Blues.  The band is currently finishing final production work on their second EP which is due to be available in early 2012.

Michael also is engaged in a number of personal musical projects.  He is a musician at Westridge Community Church,  is forming a cover band that will begin touring local venues in the near future,  and recently finished his first solo EP.

ERYN BEE: (Science Explorers) Eryn is a full time wife, mother, and friend. She was a teacher's aid for three years and attended Moody Bible Institute. She now homeschools four of her five children. (The other she successfully schooled into college.) God's creation fascinates her, and she is excited to share that interest and love with students this year.

TORIAN FIEDLER: Torian homeschooled from kindergarten through high school and took four years of Latin under Jim Hardman during that time. He has grown very comfortable with the language over the years, quickly understanding concepts and intricacies of the language. He is also learning Spanish and will be taking Spanish III next year. He has always had a knack for language and has a lot of fun teaching and sharing his skills with others. This will be his second year teaching with CHAMPs.

DANIELA FOLKER: (violin and chamber music) Violinist Daniela Folker was born in Bucharest, Romania where she began her musical studies at the age of six. Upon moving to the United States, she furthered her studies completing both a bachelor’s and graduate degree in violin performance from Roosevelt University. She is currently Principal Second Violinist for the Elgin Symphony Orchestra and performs regularly with the Joffrey Ballet Orchestra, Chicago Philharmonic, The Ravinia Festival Orchestra, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Opera Theater, and Lake Forest Symphony. Daniela has performed with such classical artists as Luciano Pavaratti and Andrea Bocelli. She has also performed with such artists as Celine Dion, The Moody Blues, Ray Charles, David Foster, Linda Ronstadt, and has been featured on Late Night with David Letterman and Oprah performing with Natalie Cole.Daniela along with her husband Michael, and son Christopher, regularly perform their educational program entitled “The Magic of Rhythm” which teaches young audiences about the magical joys of music.Daniela is on faculty as the violin instructor at the College of DuPage.In addition to her musical career, Daniela loves spending time outdoors, hiking, taking leisurely walks with her family, and serving at church in both the music and youth ministries. She and her husband, Michael are the proud parents of their 16 year old son, Christopher.

 MASHA FURMANOVA: (Improv, Children's Theater/Play Class) Masha has been taking a recreational Improv Class at Harper College for 8 years, and loving it!   When her now, 11 year old daughter turned 6, Masha started looking for an improv homeschooling course for her to take.  She found one, but it disappointingly was offered to 8 years and older.  Just as her daughter hit 8, the instructors dropped the course.  With an "old enough daughter" in tow, and 6  years of Harper improv under her belt - she was back in search for an improv-starters-course for an 8 year old. Then it hit her! Having decades of teaching experience, from pre-school to kindergarten, to 2nd grade; ESL classes; substituting through 8th grade; Sunday School classes; and more -  why not offer an improv class that she would teach?  And she did. Offering it to a homeschooling co-op in Skokie - the class took off.  Her daughter enjoyed it.  Her peers enjoyed it.  And, she hopes your children will enjoy it!


NANCY GILLES:  (Art) Nancy studied at Indiana University and received a BFA in Fine Arts, certified to teach K - 12.  She received a MAR (Masters of Arts and Religion) from Trinity International University.  She taught Art History and Applied Fine Arts at Trinity College for 2 years.  Nancy has taught at CHAMPs since 2002.

ARLENE HARDMAN:  (Spanish) Arlene received a BS in bilingual education/elementary education with a minor in Spanish.  She received her MA in Christian Ed. from Trinity Seminary, and has been working with children since her first experiences as a teacher's aide in a migrant program for Spanish-speaking kids while she was in college.  She has done mission work in Panama, Mexico, Honduras, and Venezuela.  She taught in Waukegan in a bilingual program for 2 years, and was an ESL teacher in Mundelein while in seminary.  Arlene has taught Spanish to kids in an after-school program for public school students, as well as to home-schooled students in another co-op.  Learning Spanish has opened up a whole new world for Arlene, and she looks forward to making Spanish fun for your children.  Arlene has taught at CHAMPs since 2007.

JIM HARDMAN:  (Spanish, Latin)  Jim has a Master’s Degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, IL.  He has lived in two countries outside of the US, is fluent in Spanish and has 6 years of formal Greek studies. Jim and his wife, Arlene, have four children and are members of the Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights. 

MARY BETH HAUKE: (General Science) Mary Beth has a BS in Elementary Education from the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio, and a Masters in Special Education from National Louis University in Evanston, IL. MaryBeth taught in the public schools for 9 years before starting a family. She has been homeschooling her 7 children since 2001. Mary Beth has been a member of CHAMPS for 7 years and has served on the CHAMPS board since 2016.

RUPAM KUEHNER: Rupam Kuehner has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Masters in Electrical and Computer Engineering. After working as a software engineer with IBM for nearly a decade, she became a stay-at-home mom of three children, who she currently home schools. She loves math and has studied it extensively as part of her engineering education. She is looking forward to helping CHAMPs students enjoy math and excel in it.

NANCY MINARIK: (Physics) Nancy has a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. She also has an MS and a PhD in Physics from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. She has taught Physics at Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa and at Lake Forest University in Lake Forest, Illinois. Looking for a different type of challenge, Nancy took a position with Packard BioScience Company (since swallowed up by PerkinElmer Inc.) as a Senior Optical Engineer. She resigned in 2000 with the birth of her first child. Nancy has been homeschooling their four children since 2008. Her two high schoolers transitioned to a traditional school in the Fall of 2016. This will be her third year at CHAMPs and her first year teaching high school Physics.

LISA MODRZEJEWSKI:  (Piano and Fun with Music) Lisa was homeschooled from K-12 and graduated from Trinity International University in ’07 with a degree in Music: Piano and Pedagogy.  She also has several years of teaching experience from high school and college.  While growing up, she had several influential piano instructors who not only instilled in her a great love for music, but also helped her to learn the importance of diligence, responsibility, and self-confidence.  She looks forward to passing these lessons along to the next generation.  Lisa has taught at CHAMPs since 2009.

CYNTHIA MORALES: (Life Science for Middle School) Cynthia is a homeschooling mom with a love for science, especially the life sciences. She has a BA in Sociology and and M.Div. from McCormick. This is her third year homeschooling and my second at the Co-op. In addition to homeschooling her husband and her have a Pro-Life ministry called Pro-Life Champions.

JULIE NICHOLS:  (Biology, Chemistry) Julie has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Stevens Point, Stevens Point, WI and an emphasis in Chemistry. She was a substitute teacher at Fenton HS and K-5 from 2008-2014. (has taught 3 High School maternity leaves in the areas of Biology and Chemistry). She teaches the Apologia high school biology and chemistry curriculums at the home-school groups CHANGE and CHAMPS. This is her 9th year teaching Biology and 5th year teaching this Chemistry course. She had worked with a veterinarian and was a laboratory technician in a chemical testing lab prior to staying home and home-schooling her three children (now out of college and married). This will be her sixth year teaching at CHAMPS. Julie enjoys sharing her love of these sciences with her students and challenging them with skills that will equip them as they continue their education into college.

DONNA PILOTTE:  (Preschool) Donna attended Pepperdine University majoring in Public Speaking with a minor in English.  She competed in speech tournaments throughout her High School and College careers. She was able to compete at the National Level in Extemporaneous and Humorous Interpretation.  She taught Middle School and High School Public Speaking for two years at the Friends of Grace Co-Op in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.  She also taught History Through the Holidays at the same Co-Op.  She has been homeschooling for 10 years. 


JENNIFER POLIZZI: (Physical Science) Jennifer started homeschooling her three children in 2007. This will be her sixth year in the CHAMPS co-op and her third year teaching with CHAMPS. In addition to using Apologia’s science curriculum at home, she has used it to teach in a co-op setting.  She studied English and biology at the University of Illinois.


RENEE RUNDQUIST: (World Geography, British Lit, HS English Composition and Grammar, MS Literature) Renee was homeschooled from Kindergarten through High-school, then got a degree in education from Bethel College in Indiana. She taught full-time for four years, and has been teaching at CHAMPS since 2016. Theater and literature are two things that she is extremely passionate about, and she is thrilled to be able to share that passion with students. She has also taught theater classes and directed shows with Spotlight Youth Theater for the past four years.

KATHLEEN SCHAMBACH (piano and violin): Kathleen has loved music ever since she can remember.  She began teaching herself piano at the age of 7 and began taking private lessons at the age of 8 and has been playing ever since.  Kathleen also took an interest in violin and began taking lessons at age 13.  She has since played violin with the Judson Civic Orchestra in concerts featuring artists such as Michael Card as well as organized and performed her own concerts.  She began teaching private violin and piano at 16 and has continued to since. 

VAL STEVENS (unit studies/Five in a Row): Val has home schooled her three children since 1998. One of her favorite times in their development was when they were around 5 - 8 years old -- curious about everything, asking a million questions, first learning to read and loving to be read aloud to, and having the world opened up to them through books and through first-hand experiences. She has used “Five in a Row” and the unit study approach at times with all of her kids. She also has had extensive experience leading groups of children as a social worker and therapist prior to starting a family, and through ministry with children. Val and her family have been a part of CHAMPS since 2003, and she has taught at CHAMPS since 2014.


BRANDI SULAK (Legos, Fun with Math):  Brandi has a BA in computer science from CAD Institute of Phoenix AZ.  She worked for Discover Card for 15 years, starting with coding out of college and later project management for collections and then customer service in the IT departments.  The gift of children changed her career path and is now a happy stay at home mom of 3 and Entrepreneur.  Brandi is loving her home schooling journey and is excited to find CHAMPS to grow both her children and herself.

TAIT WASSER: (Elementary Physical Eduction / Running Club): Tait and his wife Marijana, have homeschooled their 3 daughters for the past 11 years.  At their previous co-op in Pennsylvania Tait taught both physical education and running club for 5 years.  Tait enjoys passing on his passion for running and sports to today's youth.  Tait enjoys spending time with his family and any outdoor activity.  Contact info


Luke Wachlin: (LEGO Robotics) Luke homeschooled kindergarten through high-school and his family has been involved in CHAMPs for 15+ years. Luke is a student leader on the WildStang Robotics Team, a three-time world champion team which competes each year in a task-based competition, building large, industry standard robots. Luke competed in FIRST LEGO League, and has mentored other Lego robotics teams in the past. He looks forward to working with students to introduce them to the world of robotics and STEM through building small robots with LEGO. Luke hopes to attend Purdue University next year to study mechanical engineering, and enjoys playing hockey, competing in robotics, hiking, and camping.